Do you “should on yourself”? Albert Ellis says “don’t should on yourself.” What is the message you give yourself by using the words you select? Do you keep telling yourself what you should do or have to do? When I keep telling myself what I have to do, I get the sense there is a rabid dog chasing my rear end. I have to do this. That dog is ready to bite me if I slow down, get out of line, misstep or, worst of all, stop. What a way to live! It is the always-running-from syndrome. It can be part of an attitude and approach to life. Just through the choice of words.
What happens if you give up the always-running-from position? Give up moving from in order to live by choice. Act based on choice. Acting on choice sounds like—I would like to do this. The language reflects the choice. Language of choice excludes have to’s and shoulds. Just drop those words from use.
Dropping have to and should sounds relatively simple. Use the language of choice. More than just using the language, just do what you choose. Doing things by choice is a way of thinking. I choose that way of thinking. When I change the language, I actually change my feeling about the task!
Change your language to change your perception. Does that mean you will enjoy everything? Perhaps, if you choose to enjoy everything. It may be productive to look at the result of the action. For example, I may dislike doing dishes. However, I like the result of washing dishes. I like clean dishes. Therefore, I choose to wash dishes. The framing of the task makes it seem more pleasant in the moment. The purpose is clean dishes. Which is a positive outcome. Thinking about the positive outcome makes doing dishes more pleasant. Doing dishes is a simple example. The concept works on examples that are more complex. Suppose you would like to stay home from work. The alarm has just rung. It feels so early. You would just like to stay in bed. The bed feels so cozy. If you start telling yourself “I have to get up,” there is that rapid dog chasing you again. Of course, you do have reasons to get up and go to work. Those reasons are results. To keep your job. To bring home a paycheck. You could look at the desired outcome. If you are looking for a paycheck, then you can look at the paycheck. Then you can choose to work, so that you get the paycheck, your desired outcome. Actions are easier when you remember you have choice.
The challenge is to take the simple step of letting go of have to and should. Replace have to and should with choose to and would like to. Watch for the difference in your energy just using choose to and would like to. You get to choose. You can let the rabid dog chase someone else. You can choose what you do in your life. Add to your joy. Follow the words of Albert Ellis. “Don’t should on yourself.”